Dictionary > Softwood


(botany) The wood (secondary xylem) of a gymnosperm tree
Vascular plants (tracheophytes) are plants that have complex permanent tissues involved in conducting water, minerals, and food in various parts of the plant. The phloem is the vascular tissue that conducts food materials while the xylem is the one that conducts water and minerals from the roots upwards to the shoot and leaves. Some vascular plants are capable of secondary growth, i.e. a growth characterized by an increase in girth or thickness (as opposed to the primary growth, which is an increase in length). These plants increase in girth or thickness by producing secondary xylem (wood) from the vascular cambium. The wood is produced by woody plants. In this case, the wood that is produced by gymnosperms is referred to as softwood. In contrast, the wood from angiosperms is called hardwood.
Softwood does not necessarily indicate softness. There are softwoods that are harder than some hardwoods. For instance, yews and longleaf pine are much harder than several hardwoods. Some of them are even more resistant to insect attack as some insects prefer hardwood than softwood.
Softwood differs from hardwood in terms of xylem composition. Xylem vessels are absent in gymnosperms. The major conductive tissue of gymnosperms is tracheids.

See also:

  • xylem
  • tracheary elements

    You will also like...

    Disturbance on a still water
    Abiotic Factors – Water Conditions

    A still body of water may be disturbed by a variety of factors. One of them is wind. In fact, it is considered as the pr..

    Direct and indirect physiologic effects of growth hormone
    Animal Growth Hormones

    Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands of animals. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus are the most impor..

    Gene Regulation in Eukaryotes
    Gene Regulation in Eukaryotes

    Learn about the general structure of a eukaryotic gene, the transcription factors, and post-transcriptional regulation....

    Pink Lotus plant on a pond
    Freshwater Lentic Communities & Animals

    This tutorial looks at some of the communities in freshwater lentic habitats. For instance, symbiosis occurs in a commun..

    Gene Pool and Speciation
    The Gene Pool and Population Genetics

    According to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, preferable genes are favored by nature in the gene pool, and ..

    Growth Patterns
    Growth Patterns

    This tutorial describes the sigmoid curve, annual plant growth, tree growth, human growth, and insect growth as the grow..